With little more than a month to go before the Nov. 2 general election, local races in Fauquier County are heating up slowly.
All five seats on the Board of Supervisors are up for election, but two--the Cedar Run and Scott magisterial districts--are uncontested races. In a third race, the Center District incumbent is facing an opponent who had raised no money during the campaign so far.
For the constitutional offices, the only contested race is for clerk of the Circuit Court. Sheriff Joe Higgs (R), Commissioner of the Revenue Ross W. D'Urso (R), Treasurer E. A. "Beth" Ledgerton (R) and Commonwealth's Attorney Jonathan S. Lynn (D) are running unopposed.
"This is the least interesting election since I've been around," said registrar Phyllis Perkins, who began serving on the county's electoral board in 1982.
The lack of excitement can be attributed in part to the fact that the county has voted heavily Republican in recent years, and the excitement was spent on some heated primary races in June, most notably for the GOP nominations for the Cedar Run and Lee seats on the Board of Supervisors.
"There's really not a great deal of competition right now," said Paul Lawrence, Fauquier County Republican Party chairman. "The primary set the tone for the rest of the year."
Still, the races to fill the board seats are critical because of several front-burner issues--including the Virginia Power plant about to be built at Remington; the proposed extension of commuter rail service to the county; and frayed relations with the School Board as budget season approaches.
The current board has a 3 to 2 majority in favor of placing more restrictions on growth. The incumbents in the minority--Supervisors David C. Mangum (R-Lee) and Wilbur W. Burton (D-Cedar Run)--are retiring. All the candidates standing for election for supervisor say they expect the new board to favor restrictions on residential and commercial development even more strongly.
Raymond E. Graham won the Republican primary nomination and is running unopposed for the Cedar Run seat. But in Lee, Republican nominee Sharon Grove McCamy faces a challenge from independent William R. "Bill" Frazier, who has been active in the property-rights movement.
McCamy said that she favors the strict zoning ordinances and residential density requirements set forth by the current board, and that she opposes the way the power plant in Remington was approved; it received a special-exception permit at an unusual joint meeting of the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.
"We've had too many projects come our way that have objectionable value," she said. "The usual phrase I hear [from voters] is, 'I'm tired of the county dumping everything in Lee District.' "
Frazier said he supports the board's decision on the power plant and has a different outlook on growth.
"[McCamy] wants controlled growth or 'smart growth'--what's the buzzword? All I know is that we're going to have a certain amount of residential housing coming in, and we had better manage it rather than let it manage us," Frazier said.
McCamy has reported raising $9,286 during the campaign, with $730 on hand. Frazier has reported raising $2,405, with $973 on hand.
In the Center District, incumbent Joe Winkelmann (R) is defending the seat he won in a special election last year, defeating independent James A. Rankin and tipping the balance in favor of the current slow-growth majority. Now he faces Democrat Richard Galecki (D).
Winkelmann said he has fulfilled his campaign promises to stop sprawl and increase education spending. He said his election signaled the end of large-scale residential development in Fauquier because "the big nationwide builders understand that rampant growth is not going to be allowed in this county."
Galecki criticizes Winkelmann for not supporting the funding requests of the School Board.
"He may have supported an actual dollar increase. But it doesn't cover everything that is needed, so it doesn't matter if it's an increase or not," said Galecki, who in campaign finance forms has reported raising no money. Winkelmann has reported raising $13,438, with $9,196 on hand.
In the Marshall District, two independents, orchard owner Traci Stribling and Planning Commission Chairman Henry Atherton, are running for the seat being being vacated by retiring Supervisor James R. Green Jr. (I), part of the two-member minority.
Atherton, after speaking at a candidates forum in Delaplane on Tuesday evening, said very little separates his positions and Stribling's, though he said that he is less enthusiastic about the extension of commuter rail to Fauquier than Stribling and that he supports a new high school for Marshall while she opposes it.
Stribling said Atherton's long record on the commission includes opposition to providing services to the county's nine designated service districts, thus forcing some residential development into rural areas. Atherton has reported raising $8,398, with $4,767 on hand. Stribling reported raising $3,409, with no cash on hand.
In the Scott District, board Chairman Larry L. Weeks (R) is running unopposed. He reported raising $9,050.
In the only contested countywide race, Republican Gail H. Barb, the chief deputy clerk of the Circuit Court, is running for the job held by her retiring boss, William D. "Billy" Harris. Her opponent, Conway M. Porter, a retired Virginia Employment Commission manager, has raised more money than any Democrat in recent years, reporting a total of $9,096, with $2,843 on hand. Barb reported raising $22,195, with $676 on hand.
Porter, the first African American to run for countywide office, said the black community would be his base of support. He said he differed very little from Barb on what healled the key issues in the race: technology improvements in the clerk's office and inclusive hiring practices.
"I'll be very thankful if there is no controversy," Barb said of what has been a low-key campaign.
In School Board races, three candidates are running unopposed. They are incumbents John E. Williams (Center) and Ernie L. Gray Jr. (Lee), and newcomer Broni Lambelet, who is running to fill the seat vacated by Paul J. Asciolla (Marshall).
Incumbent Alice Jane Childs (Cedar Run) faces Gary Maloche. School Board Chairman Mary Charles Ashby (Scott) faces William Downey, a construction engineer who has won the endorsement of the local Republican Party.